We’re always on the hunt for something to make for Anita to take to work to share with her co-workers. Usually that means snacks. And although we like to keep it simple, that doesn’t mean we’d ever sacrifice flavor. When I came across this recipe for Ting-A-Lings I quickly put it on our to-make list. They’re crunchy, chocolatey, and butterscotchy and fun! Oh yes, they disappeared in no time. You can make all sorts of different variations on Ting-A-Lings. Use white chocolate instead of semi-sweet. Try different nuts. Substitute fried Ramen noodles (a dash of oil in a skillet, add crushed Ramen, and fry until golden. Also great on salads or on soups!). You name it, you can’t go wrong.
Finding uses for leftover Halloween candy is my new obsession. Ok, it’s ONE of my new obsessions. We ended up with a good amount of leftover candy this year, mostly Dum-Dums. That’s despite using them in my classic self-serve pumpkin, which is always a huge hit at Halloween. So, I made sugar cookie Dum-Dum pops. Fantastic baked sugar cookies with that light crunch, surrounding lightly melted Dum-Dums, perfect for licking after finishing off the cookie. The key to making these sugar cookie Dum-Dum pops is to very, very gently press the pops into the dough as it softens while it bakes. If you push too hard the dough will crack and you’ll end up with sad (but still good) pops. After doing a few I got the technique down.
Wow. My mind was telling me “Hey, look! A donut!” but my taste buds were telling me “Wow, that’s really different and cool!”. The pineapple rings are coated in a simple batter that cooks up golden brown delicious (GBD) , reminiscent of donuts. Drizzled with maple syrup and sprinkled with confectioners sugar, these little slices of heaven make for an outstandingly good dessert. I bought this really cool pineapple corer from Amazon the other day. I’ve been wanting to use it forever. I picked up a pineapple on sale, got the corer out of the box, and in about a minute I had perfect fresh pineapple rings for these grilled maple bacon pineapple rings. The corer can also be used to make a pineapple ‘bowl’, great for serving things like fried rice and grilled shrimp with pineapple. Click on the picture below if you want to learn more about it on Amazon. It’s a fun little gadget.
Also try my glazed baked mini-donuts.
Anita declared these as “the only way we will cook tater tots from now on”. And I am in total agreement with her too. Just like potato skins they have a crunchy side and a soft side and taste, well, potato-y. Topped with our favorite potato skin toppings, cheese, green onion and sour cream, these tater tot potato skins can be served as appetizers at your next party or as a side at your next grill-out. Make sure you make lots of them, though, because they are crazy addicting. You can actually skip the thawing of the tater tots and squash the tots after they have been in the oven for 10 minutes. I found this works fine, but not quite as well as when you fully thaw the tater tots first. They don’t squash out quite as flat, but they still get super duper crispy crunchy, which is the goal.
I spoon sour cream into a squirt bottle to top these tater tot potato skins nice and evenly. You can of course spoon the sour cream directly on top, but I usually end up with a little too much in one spot and not enough in another. The squirt bottle solves that problem.
I loved the flavor of this cauliflower ‘popcorn’. The cumin and chili powder add a nice southwestern, earthly flavor. The nutritional yeast (which I’d never used before) made me think of cheddar cheese flavoring. I was pleasantly surprised by it.
Now, let’s talk ‘popcorn’. That makes you think crunchy, and if you eat this cauliflower raw that’s just what you’ll get. You can also pop (sorry) them into a dehydrator for 12 or so hours. Right out of the dehydrator they have a nice crunch to them, but I found that that crunch doesn’t last. The seems get a bit soft…. and not popcorny. But the flavor was still great! I’m looking forward to other ways to use nutritional yeast. For us, I’d recommend this cauliflower popcorn, but honestly I’d enjoy them more raw and save the dehydrator time. That’s up to you. I’m a big texture guy, and for me, the texture of the raw cauliflower was better.
Every few weeks Anita and I like to make something new and fun for her to take into work to share with her co-workers. This time we definitely tried something new for us, making baked mini-donuts. They turned out to be incredibly easy to make. We glazed some with a vanilla glaze and some with a chocolate glaze. Some got covered in sprinkles. Some didn’t. They were great and everyone enjoyed them! We actually ended up make three dozen mini donuts because making three is actually just as easy as making one. Both glazes are simple to make. You can’t mess around once you start glazing the donuts, though. As soon as the glaze is ready start dipping those donuts! If you wait too long the glaze will set up and you’ll get nothing but donut sadness.
I’ve found the replacement for eating popcorn while watching a movie. No more of that. Grilled bacon-wrapped jalapeno-stuffed olives are much, much better. Yeah, there’s definitely a spicy kick to them. And a little smokiness from the bacon. A bit salty. Just give me a bowl of these little bites and a little cool ranch or blue cheese dressing (gotta cool off!) and I’m happy! You don’t have to go the spicy route if you don’t want to. Any stuffed olives will work just fine for this recipe. Try Gouda-stuffed olives, they’re fantastic too! Just make sure you get big olives, big enough to wrap the bacon around. Those lil ole pimento-stuffed olives that are barely bigger than peanuts just won’t do. And since you’ve got the grill going, might as well add a few bacon-wrapped meatballs!
Watermelon pickles are something I’ve wanted to make for a long time. I’ve heard people talk about them, and I always figured there had to be something I could do with the rinds leftover from my watermelons. Watermelon pickles are just like regular ole cucumber pickles. They’re good and crunchy. This particular recipe makes watermelon pickles that are sweet at the start and spicy at the end. You could eat them right out of the jar or even put them on hot dogs or hamburgers for something totally different. I’m contemplating chopping a few of these watermelon pickles and making a relish. I think it’d come out delicious. The flavor balance is perfect, not overly sweet or spicy. The pickling spice is strong, which I like, but if you’re not such a fan of the cloves in it you might want to use slightly less or remove some of them before adding to the brine.
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided
4 cups of watermelon rind, peeled, chopped into 1/2"-3/4" cubes
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1-2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons pickling spice
Red pepper flake, to taste (optional)
Blanch the watermelon rind by bringing 4 cups of water and 3 tablespoons of salt to a boil in a pot over high heat. Stir until the salt dissolves.
Add the watermelon rind. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue simmering until just starting to turn tender (you want them to still be a bit crispy), about 5 minutes.
Skim off any fat and drain. Transfer to a large bowl.
Make the brine by bringing the remaining 1 cup of water, 1 teaspoon salt, vinegar, sugar, pickling spice, and red pepper (if using) to a boil in saucepan. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Pour the brine over the watermelon rind.
Cover with a plate to keep the rind submerged and let cool to room temperature.
Transfer to glass jars, cover and refrigerate overnight before serving.
The pickles will keep in the fridge for up to 3 months.
Combine and store: Pour the hot brine over the rind. Use a small plate or a Ziplock bag partially filled with water (I use the Ziplock bag) to hold the rind under the brine. Let cool to room temperature. Transfer the rind and brine into clean glass jars (I use Mason jars), cover and chill before serving. Keep refrigerated - they'll keep several months.